Lost and found: Painting stolen from UA in 1985 back on display

KOLD News 4-5 p.m. recurring
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:57 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - “Woman Ochre” finally got her happy ending.

The abstract impressionist work by Willem de Kooning is famous - for being missing. Until now. 37 years after the painting was stolen, it’s back home at the University of Arizona Museum of Art, where it was slashed from its frame in 1985. The piece was unveiled for all to enjoy once again, in the new exhibition titled, “Restored: the Return of Woman-Ochre.”

In 2017, a New Mexico antiques dealer discovered “Woman-Ochre” in the estate of a woman who, along with her husband, is suspected in the heist. But they died before anyone knew they had the piece.

Museum registrar Kristin Schmidt was there for the return. Schmidt asked tattoo artist Marcella Watson to interpret “Woman Ochre” on her arm.

”The highlight of my career is the return of this painting - so to have it as part of my body made sense,” Schmidt said.

The FBI now uses the museum’s tale of theft and recovery as a case study. To this day, UAMA is not open the day after thanksgiving, when the painting was stolen.

“Woman Ochre’s” full-circle saga is bringing together art and mystery lovers old and new, recruiting fans with its cinematic arc of redemption.

“The way it’s restored a lot of faith in the generosity of strangers,” Schmidt said.

“Restored: The Return of ‘Woman-Ochre’” will be on exhibit at The University of Arizona Museum of Art October 8th through May 20th. The exhibit tells the complete story of the painting, from its creation through its theft and remarkable recovery.

UAMA is open Tuesday through Saturday.